The Out­doors­man

Ad­ven­ture To­gether

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - In This Issue - Story and pho­tog­ra­phy by Cor­bet Deary

As adults, many of us view the out­doors as an op­por­tu­nity — a re­prieve from the stress of our jobs and the rut that comes with our daily lives. The out­doors are cer­tainly a means of get­ting much-needed rest and re­lax­ation. But an ex­cur­sion into Mother Na­ture can go much deeper. It's a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to spend qual­ity time with the fam­ily.

There are out­door des­ti­na­tions aplenty through­out the Oua­chi­tas, but one would be hard-pressed to find a lo­ca­tion more fam­ily friendly than our state parks. There are 52 of th­ese fa­cil­i­ties dis­persed through­out the state. And it just so hap­pens we have three of the finest within min­utes of Hot Springs.

Nes­tled on the banks of Lake Oua­chita, Lake Oua­chita State Park is a great desti­na­tion. Sport­ing 101 camp­sites, it pro­vides camp­ing en­thu­si­asts with am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pe­ri­ence stays in a beau­ti­ful set­ting. The park also of­fers fully equipped “con­tem­po­rary style” cab­ins.

With 4.5 miles of trails on the premises, par­ents will have am­ple op­por­tu­nity to em­bark upon a hike with their off­spring, while get­ting bet­ter ac­quainted with ter­rain typ­i­cal of the Oua­chi­tas.

Lake Oua­chita State Park of­fers a plethora of in­ter­pre­tive pro­grams through­out the spring, sum­mer and fall. Many of th­ese pro­grams are geared to­ward education. By no means, how­ever, does this mean they only cater to young­sters, as the park of­fers barge tours on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

With a ma­rina and boat rentals on site, Lake Oua­chita State Park is a great start­ing point for those wish­ing to try their hand at coax­ing fish from one of Arkansas' premier reser­voirs.

Sport­ing 70 camp­sites and 20 cab­ins, Lake Cather­ine State Park is also a great fam­ily desti­na­tion. Along with pro­vid­ing am­ple op­por­tu­nity to em­bark upon an ex­tended stay sur­rounded by Mother Na­ture, that fa­cil­ity is noted for its trail sys­tems.

With four des­ig­nated paths on site, it of­fers just more than 10 miles of hik­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Each of th­ese paths vary in dif­fi­culty lev­els, lend­ing an op­por­tu­nity for folks

of all phys­i­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties and ages to em­bark upon a jour­ney into the for­est.

Al­though all of the routes are well worth ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, Falls Branch Trail is likely the most pop­u­lar desti­na­tion, and right­fully so. Run­ning along­side the lake's shore­line for a dis­tance, the des­ig­nated path even­tu­ally makes its way within a stone's throw of a beau­ti­ful wa­ter­fall pour­ing over a bluffline and into a pool below. The wa­ter spec­ta­cle is one the largest through­out the Oua­chi­tas and is a sight to be­hold, es­pe­cially af­ter a sig­nif­i­cant rain.

The third fa­cil­ity lo­cated less than one hour from Hot Springs, DeGray Lake State Park also of­fers won­der­ful lake­side views and has a world of ac­tiv­i­ties await­ing vis­i­tors.

Al­though not of­fer­ing cab­ins, the fa­cil­ity cer­tainly doesn't lack lux­ury. In fact, they have a lodge un­sur­passed. Those wish­ing to do an overnighte­r with ac­cess to satel­lite tele­vi­sion, In­ter­net and a plethora of other ameni­ties might con­sider DeGray as a desti­na­tion. A restau­rant is also lo­cated at the lodge.

The park of­fers camp­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties ga­lore, boast­ing 113 camp­sites with wa­ter and elec­tri­cal hookups. But even those who are into prim­i­tive camp­ing will be catered to. One might con­sider a stay in one of the fa­cil­ity's YURTs, a high-walled tent with elec­tric­ity, wood floors and screened-in win­dows.

DeGray Lake State Park has no short­age of trails. With six on site, one can eas­ily find an ad­ven­ture to suit their fancy. Each des­ig­nated path is fairly short in dis­tance rang­ing any­where from 0.5 to one mile in length, all of which are easy to mod­er­ate in dif­fi­culty lev­els.

When it comes to ac­tiv­i­ties, DeGray Lake State Park is the bomb! Al­though the ea­gle watch tours will be on the verge of wrap­ping up by the time this ar­ti­cle hits the press, they will still have plenty to keep the fam­ily en­ter­tained through­out the en­tire spring and sum­mer months.

Of­fer­ing an ar­ray of in­ter­pre­tive pro­grams and lake cruise tours, DeGray Lake is a pop­u­lar fam­ily desti­na­tion. I've had the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence sev­eral of its pro­grams through­out the years, and won't go with­out men­tion­ing my two per­sonal fa­vorites — Dutch-oven cook­ing and snorke­l­ing.

One can rent var­i­ous wa­ter crafts from the ma­rina. Just a ca­sual boat ride will likely prove right down some peo­ple's al­ley, but those with a pas­sion for fish­ing will have 13,800 acres of prime wa­ters at their dis­posal.

Of course, black bass and crap­pie are likely the most-pur­sued species, but I can't think of any­thing more ex­cit­ing than be­ing on the wa­ter when the hy­brids go into a break­ing frenzy.

With three mag­nif­i­cent state parks right here in our back­yards, there's no ex­cuse. It's time to gather up the fam­ily and em­bark upon an ed­u­ca­tional and en­joy­able ex­cur­sion into the won­der­ful out­doors.

Our lo­cal state parks of­fer plenty of trails that can be en­joyed by the en­tire fam­ily.

Lake Oua­chita, DeGray Lake and Lake Cather­ine state parks are all three lo­cated on the banks of pro­duc­tive wa­ters, lend­ing to op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­tro­duce chil­dren to the sport of fish­ing.

Our lo­cal state parks are a great desti­na­tion for those wish­ing to spend qual­ity time with their fam­i­lies in the out­doors.

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